I like an amusement park with a pedigree. In this era of mega parks and corporate-run kiddie events, there’s nothing more charming than a family-owned, old school amusement park. Nestled on the banks of Tennessee’s Lake Winnepesaukah, the namesake amusement park opened in 1924. Back then, the focus was a sprawling swimming pool and paddle boat rides. Today, Lake Winnie boasts 46 rides, concerts, concessions and games and Southern friendliness that permeates the park.
With old fashioned rides like antique cars, and a hand-carved and painted carousel, thrill rides like the cannon ball roller coaster and a lake brimming with Canadian geese, mallard ducks and huge carp, Lake Winnie lives up to its theme of ‘Come on, Get Happy!” There’s also a concert series featuring country and Christian music as well as the requisite funnel cake, cotton candy and hot dogs. If you’re lucky, you’ll glimpse Ms. Adrienne, the park’s 85-year-old owner in her white sun hat, greeting visitors. Admission is bargain priced at $5 to enter and $1 for individual ride tickets or $13.00 for a strip of 14 tickets. You can’t journey to Chattanooga without checking out the famous Chattanooga Choo Choo, which also happens to be a historic hotel. Tour the lobby which was the original Southern Railroad lobby as well as the switching station, which controlled the trains. You can opt to stay in an actual Victorian train car or a standard room. Don’t miss the adjoining Station House restaurant where the servers sing and supply food with outstanding rhythm.
Photo by Rosalind Cummings-Yeates